Reducing hospital bills = Removing Agents in practice
Magnitude of problem
Hospitals bills can ruin your financial planning. Did u know that 20% of your medical bills can be reduced by simply removing the agents who take you to hospitals ?????
We seldom realise the web of agents surrounding us in healthcare sector. People pay lakhs of rupees for their treatments. They never realise that upto 30% of bills are inflated because of agents. Agents charge 20 -30% of total bill costs just for introducing patients to hospitals. This cost is then transferred to patients in their bills.
Possible Reason for the problem
The most important reason of this happening in healthcare sector is because of lack of regulations of quacks. Quacks run clinics everywhere in our country and when they refer patients to hospitals they expect kickbacks which is accepted by hospitals at times. People turn to agents thinking they will reduce their bills end getting inflated hefty bills. Sending patients and earning commissions is so common now that most people don’t find anything wrong in it. In fact to get new patients this is the easiest way.
A World of irony
One one hand central and state governments are trying to reduce burden of health costs on people by bringing schemes like Ayushman Bharat and Delhi arogya kosh. On the other side we have these tours working without any regulations charging such exorbitant commissions. Middle class population is mostly hit by this type of malpractice.
Scary and sad at the same time
Imagine yourself paying 1 lakh rupees hospital bill for treatment or surgery. Now imagine that 20-30 thousand of this bill went to the agent who brought you to the hospital. This could have been avoided if you went directly to the hospital/ doctor probably.
Very early in my private practice I was regularly approached by such agents with lucarative offers. Agents try to lure you with prospects of getting huge number of patients. Though tempting as a newcomer I have always resisted these offers. As a result I get less number of patients but genuine patients. I am able to reduce their hospital bills because I don’t have to pay any agents. It is my privilege that Max group of hospitals where I am currently employed shuns this practice totally. I don’t allow such agents in my clinic based practice also.
A ray of hope
Thankfully many of the corporate hospitals have stopped giving commissions for domestic patients. Though The practice still runs for international patients in most hospitals. Situation is more deplorable in smaller centres where patients go with a hope of cheaper treatment. They end up paying much much more than what was needed.
I can only hope such kickbacks stop in medical treatments. Have you ever heard of lawyers giving 30% of his professional fees for bringing in clients? Have you heard of chartered accountants or architects giving 30% as commissions??
You can save yourself from agents
1) Try to get in touch with your doctor/ hospital directly most of them are readily approachable.
2) Stay away from unrelated people who tend to talk on your behalf with hospitals saying they will get your bills reduced. Talk to the hospitals directly.
3) It is better to go to your family physician( certified) or hospitals for referrals directly. They tend to give you genuine advice usually.
4) Never go to a hospital where you are being forced by someone to get treated.
International patients should be vary of their interpreters who can sometimes act as agents themselves. This way patients can save 20% on their hospital bills.
Dr Deepak Rathore (MBBS, MS, Mch plastic surgery)
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